Posts Tagged ‘Feast of Dedication’

Anti-semitism

“I will bless those who bless you, but I will curse anyone who curses you; and by you all the families of the earth will be blessed” (Genesis 12:3).

Many years ago I was listening to a Messianic Jew and gentile discuss the Biblical roots of the Christian faith on a talk radio show. A woman called in and stated, “If I had known Jesus was Jewish, I would not have become a Christian.”

Anti-semitism.

When our family began celebrating the Feasts of the LORD in Leviticus 23 along with Purim and Hanukkah, we were asked if we were becoming ‘Jewish.’ What is wrong with becoming ‘Jewish’ when all of our Scriptures were written by Jews and our Savior is Jewish? What’s wrong with looking ‘Jewish’ when Sha’ul commended the Thessalonians for being imitators of those Jewish congregations that are united in Messiah Yeshua (1 Thessalonians 2:14).

Anti-semitism.

In the past few years I hear many say that we shouldn’t listen to the rabbis, the sages or the Jewish people because they added to Torah, they created the Talmud, and they don’t know Messiah. I often wonder if these same people realize from where these Jewish men developed their rules and regulations. They had a heart to obey Adonai even in the smallest ‘jot and tittle’ so they spent hours, days, months, and years studying God’s commandments. Their intention was not to add burdens, but to honor God. Unfortunately, when their rules were considered equal to God’s commandments, they did become burdensome. But, they were just men trying to obey Adonai to the best intent of their heart, mind, and soul.

Anti-semitism.

Anti-semitism is a disease lurking in the darkness of this world, but when it appears in the lives of those who carry the Light of Yeshua, it needs to be dealt with however subtle it may appear to be. It is anti-semitism to believe that the myriads of Christian denominations, Hebrew Roots groups, Torah Observant groups, and the plethora of other religious delineations have greater understanding of the God of Israel than the Jewish people (John 4:22).

The Word of God says the Jewish people have a veil over their eyes (2 Corinthians 3:14-16). It needs to be removed, not judged. The only One who can remove the veil is Yeshua. For those who know his salvation, it is anti-semitism to keep that salvation from even one of ‘lost sheep of the House of Israel.’

Without the Jewish people, there would be no covenants, no promises, no Word of God written on pages between leather covers or on iPhones. To read the Bible and not love the people who wrote it and gave their lives to protect it is: anti-semitism.

Anti-semitism

Anti-semitism in the heart of Antiochus Ephiphanes led to the near destruction of the Jewish people, their Torah and their Temple. But our great God, Adonai Elohim, empowered a mighty deliverer. Judah Maccabee, along with a small army of courageous, spiritual men, brought his brothers and sisters victory over anti-semitism and restored them to their Land, their Biblical traditions, and their Temple.

Anti-semitism in the heart of Haman, a descendant of the Amalekites, led to the near destruction of the Jewish people and their culture. But our great God, Yahweh Elohim, through the faithfulness of the humble Persian Queen Esther, along with everyone in the city of Susa who prayed and fasted for three days and nights, gave His people victory over death and anti-semitism. He eventually returned them to their Land where Nehemiah and Ezra rebuilt the walls of Jerusalem and the restored the Temple.

Anti-semitism in the hearts of those who claim to follow Yeshua will bring about the same desire for the destruction of God’s people. Never forget “It is a terrifying thing to fall into the hands of the living God!” (Hebrews 10:31).

©2016 Tentstake Ministries Publishing, all rights reserved.  No copying or reproducing of article without crediting the author or Tentstake Ministries Publishing.  

Is Hanukkah the alternative Christmas?

For numerous Biblical reasons, our family stopped celebrating Christmas many years ago.  Our relatives didn’t understand our reasons, but accepted the decision as best they could.  One side still sent Christmas presents that our children accepted with gratefulness because “every good and perfect gift comes down from the Father of lights” (James 1:17).   The other side began wrapping Christmas gifts in Hanukkah paper.  Though that was their way of respecting our decision, Hanukkah is not a Jewish substitute, replacement or alternative to Christmas.  Hanukkah and Christmas have two very different historical, spiritual backgrounds and have nothing in common with one another.

The roots and traditions of Christmas can be found in the Roman celebration of Saturnalia on which the Catholic church sprinkled holy water. They incorporated the birth of a non-Jewish Jesus and created the Christ Mass (which ironically means ‘death sacrifice’).   Those who embrace Christmas believing it is Jesus’ birthday  are doing nothing more than acknowledging catholicism as the root of their faith, even if they are protestants who claim to reject everything catholic.   In fact, all of Christianity and secular society for this one day of the year become catholic in their celebrations and promote the idolatrous Saturnalia with a holiday of stars, wreaths, greenery, and gift giving.  

“Then came Hanukkah in Yerushalayim. It was winter …” (John 10:22)

The events surrounding Hanukkah, the Festival of Dedication, are found in the Apocrypha. It is rooted in Jewish history during the time when Alexander the Great wanted to Hellenize the world.  At the same time, the Emperor Hadrian changed the name of Judea to the Greek Palestine in order to expedite the destruction of the nation and people of Israel.

Alexander’s cohort, Antiochus Epiphanes meaning ‘antichrist manifest,’  went about ‘Palestine’  forcing the Jewish people to renounce their faith in the God of Israel or die.  He sought to destroy the people and the lineage through whom the Messiah would come. 

The Jewish people were not allowed to circumcise their children, celebrate Passover or any of God’s other holy days, or offer sacrifices in the Temple.  As Antiochus’ armies entered Jerusalem, they desecrated the Most Holy Place in the Temple with pig’s blood.  This is the same Temple that Muslim world leaders claim never existed; the same place where an Islamic mosque stand today.   

Our family is not nor ever was catholic so we do not celebrate Christmas by taking part in the Christ Mass.   Our children were raised to understand the historically pagan roots of Christmas and have never felt as if they were missing some great holiday.

After we read that the prophet Jeremiah warned God’s people about cutting down a tree and bringing it into the house, we stopped cutting down a Christmas tree and decorating it with all its lights, ornaments, and angels. We stopped following the customs of the church like Advent calendars and candle wreaths.

Instead, we taught our children about Hanukkah and the anti-semitism of the Greek/Roman world, the same anti-semitism that exists in the church because of its catholic-rooted heritage. We taught our children the anti-semitism and hatred of Israel in the growing ideology of the much-tolerated religion of Islam.  We taught our children that obeying the commands of God are more important than the traditions of men and the culture in which we live.

Our children are grown and have their own lives, but each still remembers the Maccabees and their fight to free the Jews from being Hellenized with paganism.   They light their menorahs for eight days to remember the re-dedication of the Temple Altar back to Adonai.  Each night with the candle light they remember the prophecies for when Yeshua returns and sets His feet on the Mount of Olives. He will enter the Eastern Gate of Jerusalem and will cleanse a newly-built Temple from the ‘abomination of desolation’ (Matthew 24:15-26, 2 Thessalonians 2:4). Yeshua will restore Jerusalem and the nation of Israel to the Millennial glory promised in the Scriptures.  

Hanukkah is not a Jewish alternative to Christmas.  Changing the wrapping paper on a present or saying “Happy Hanukkah” rather than “Merry Christmas” changes nothing about the differences between the two. One is a celebration with pagan roots and decorated to entice the world into idolatry; the other is a memorial to those who fought against anti-semitism and stood against the destruction of  their faith in the God of Isra’el and His Torah. Unlike the Christmas holiday, Hanukkah is a reminder from a century before the birth of Yeshua that no one, especially a modern antiochus can remove the Torah that comes out of Zion, and the Word of Adonai that comes from Jerusalem; including the Vatican or the pope (Michah 4:2).

©2015 Tentstake Ministries Publishing,  all rights reserved.  No copying or reproducing of article without crediting the author or Tentstake Ministries Publishing. 

Modern Maccabean Revolt

“What has been will be again; what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun” (Ecclesiastes 1:9).

In the days of Judah Maccabee, there was an attack on the Jewish people by the Greeks. Not just on the Jewish people themselves, but on everything the God of Israel had commanded them and promised them in the Scriptures. Everything –– Jewish.

Every king, emperor or leader throughout history who has done anti-semitic things has been considered an enemy to Israel and the Jewish people: Pharaoh of Egypt, Haman in Persia, Caligula and Nero of Rome, Miguel de Morillo and Juan de San Martin of the Spanish Inquisitions, and Hitler. Each of these leaders set themselves up as gods and tried to snuff out the lives of God’s chosen people. There is still one more evil leader to come: the ‘man of lawlessness’ who will oppose every that is of God. Everything ––– Jewish.

“The people of the ruler who will come will destroy the city and the sanctuary. … And at the temple he will set up an abomination that causes desolation, until the end that is decreed is poured out on him” (Daniel 9:26-27).

“So when you see standing in the holy place ‘the abomination that causes desolation,’spoken of through the prophet Daniel—let the reader understand—  then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains” (Matthew 24:15-16).

“Don’t let anyone deceive you in any way, for that day will not come until the rebellion occurs and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the man doomed to destruction. He will oppose and will exalt himself over everything that is called God or is worshiped, so that he sets himself up in God’s temple, proclaiming himself to be God” (2 Thessalonians 2:3-4).

Today the same battle rages and could be called the modern Maccabean revolt. Since the first century, Greek and Roman ideologies have created a religious system contrary to Biblical commands. This system teaches the Torah is nullified, the Temple is unnecessary, the Levitical priesthood is obsolete, the dietary laws are cancelled, circumcision is unnecessary, the Sabbath is changed, and the Jewish people are rejected by God. Everything –– Jewish.

These doctrines transform the worship of the God of Israel into an institutionally designed church-god. Jesus is misrepresented as part of a Greek-based three-in-one godhead rather than the King of the Jews, the Messiah of Israel. Many who could come to accept Yeshua are driven away through these false and misguided teachings. Those who present these teachings are not giving the lost and dying world the good news of salvation; they are twisting the truth and giving the father of lies a platform on which to proclaim his message of lawlessness. These subversive doctrines are the work of the Adversary, the antichrist, the ‘man of lawlessness’ prophesied by Daniel, Yeshua, and Paul.

According to King Solomon in Ecclesiastes 1:9, there is nothing new under the sun. There will always be lawless men who want to destroy the Jewish people and their Biblical heritage. There will also be men and women, Jews and gentiles, like Judah Maccabee and his father, who will fight against such destruction and assimilation. They will place a Hanukkah menorah in their window to show they stand with the Jewish people and the God of Israel. They will light the eight candles on the hanukkiah each night to proclaim to the world that they will never assimilate into a Hellenized Roman religious system that advances the theology of the ‘man of lawlessness.’

The Syrians didn’t win the war against the small Maccabean army; Antiochus Epiphanes didn’t destroy the Jews or the Torah. Modern-day Christiandom won’t have victory over the remnant royal priesthood that stands against the lies and deceptions established through centuries of anti-semitic church fathers. The modern-day Romans in Vatican City won’t stop the “Torah from coming out of Zion and the Word of the LORD from Jerusalem” (Isaiah 2:3, Micah 4:2). The battle is Yeshua’s and he stands on the Mount of Olives and returns to Jerusalem as High Priest, everything Biblical will be restored: the Torah, the Levitical priesthood, the Altar of Sacrifice, circumcision to enter the Sanctuary, and the Temple described by the prophet Ezekiel. Everything –– Jewish.

©2013 Tentstake Ministries Publishing, all rights reserved.  No copying or reproducing of this article without crediting the author or Tentstake Ministries Publishing. For a hard copy of this article,  please purchase Journey with Jeremiah: Nourishment for the Wild Olive.

Days of Dedication – Hanukkah

Menorahs and Hanukkiahs for Feast of Dedication

“Even if all the nations that live under the rule of the king obey him, and have chosen to do his commandments, departing each one from the religion of his fathers, yet I and my sons and my brothers will live by the covenant of our fathers…. We will not obey the king’s word by turning aside from our religion to the right hand or to the left” (Septuagint*, 1 Maccabees 2:19-22).

Most people have heard of the holiday called Hanukkah or Chanukkah. Some believe that it is the Jewish alternative to Christmas. However, these two celebrations have nothing in common.

In Hebrew, the word chanak means ‘dedicate.’ Hanukkah is an eight-day celebration also known as the Feast of Dedication. During Hanukkah, a special menorah called a hanukkiah is lit and put in the window. Each of the eight nights of Hanukkah one candle is lit by using the ‘helper candle’ or shamash until all eight candles and the shamash are burning.

The historical account of Hanukkah is not found in the modern versions of the Bible. It was removed from the canon of Scripture by Martin Luther because the festival conflicted with his anti-semitic theological views. However, the events surrounding the eight days of Hanukkah are written in the Septuagint Book of Maccabees, and recorded by the Jewish historian Josephus. According to both accounts, the eight days of Hanukkah is to be celebrated every year memorializing the cleansing and re-dedication of the Temple and the Altar of Sacrifice.

“So they celebrated the dedication of the altar for eight days, and offered burnt offerings with gladness; they offered a sacrifice of deliverance and praise. Then Judas and his brothers and all the assembly of Israel determined that every year at that season the days of dedication of the altar should be observed with gladness and joy for eight days, beginning with the twenty-fifth day of the month of Chislev” (1 Maccabees 4:56-59).

“Now Judas celebrated the festival of the restoration of the sacrifices of the temple for eight days; and omitted no sort of pleasures thereon: but he feasted them upon very rich and splendid sacrifices; and he honoured God, and delighted them by hymns and psalms. Nay, they were so very glad at the revival of their customs, when, after a long time of intermission, they unexpectedly had regained the freedom of their worship, that they made it a law for their posterity that they should keep a festival, on account of the restoration of their temple worship, for eight days. And from that time to this we celebrate this festival, and call it Lights. I suppose the reason was, because this liberty beyond our hopes appeared to us; and that hence was the name given to that festival” (Josephus 12:5).

A Little History

The events surrounding Hanukkah began in 167 BCE when the Greek Antiochus Epiphanes became king over the Seleucid Empire which included the land of Israel. His name meant ‘antichrist god incarnate,’ and as such, he attacked the God of Israel through the Jewish people. In order to have a one-world religious and cultural system, his goal was to force Hellenistic pagan gods and customs on everyone in his empire , including the Jewish people. He wanted to nullify the Torah, invalidate the Levitical priesthood, cancel dietary laws, outlaw circumcision, and remove the Sabbath –– everything Jewish.

The Jewish battle for independence from Syrian rule began when a Levitical priest named Mattathias was commanded by a Greek official to make a sacrifice to a Greek god. Mattathias not only refused, but killed a Jewish man who began to do so. He also killed the official. When an edict for his arrest was sent out, Mattathias hid in the Judean wilderness with his five sons calling for other faithful Jews to join him. Many did follow him into the wilderness, and with the leadership of his son Judah, a small band of Jewish men began to revolt.

“Let everyone who has zeal for the Torah and who stands by the covenant follow me!” (1 Maccabees 2:17, Septuagint) 

As the Greek armies went on their conquest,  other Jewish men, women and children succumbed to Antiochus’ commands. Those who didn’t follow his orders were imprisoned or murdered.  The Jewish people feared for their very exAs the Syrian armies conquered the land, other Jewish men, women, and children succumbed to Antiochus’ commands. Those who didn’t follow his orders were imprisoned or murdered. The Jewish people feared for their very existence. Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, this lawless Greek didn’t succeed with his ultimate plan or there would have been no lineage from which the Messiah could come!

Judah was given the nickname ‘hammer’ or Maccabee, an acronym for Mecha-mocha ba’alim HaShem, meaning “Who is like you among the powers, O God,” became the battle cry of the rag tag Jewish resistance. Judah Maccabee was not only from the Levitical lineage, but he served the God of Israel faithfully, wholeheartedly, and courageously. His words were always filled with the hope and power of the God of Israel just like his predecessor, the warrior King David. The Maccabees who numbered under 12,000 with little to no training or equipment fought fearlessly against the Syrian armies who were highly trained, rode elephants, and numbered over 40,000.

“But Judas said: ‘Many are easily hemmed in by a few; in the sight of Heaven there is no difference between deliverance by many or by few; for victory in war does not depend upon the size of the army, but on strength that comes from Heaven’” (1 Maccabees 3:18-19)

After three years of continuous fighting, tearing down pagan altars, circumcising uncircumcised boys, and rescuing Torah scrolls from the hands of the Greek, Judah Maccabee and his little army miraculously regained control over Jerusalem. They went into the Temple and saw its defilement. The courts had bushes and thickets, the gates were burned, and the priests chambers destroyed. Pigs had been sacrificed on the Altar and the blood sprinkled throughout the Holy Place. The Menorah was gone, either stolen or melted down for its gold. A statue of Zeus sat in the Holy of Holies where the Ark of the Covenant should have been. They mourned the desecration, tore their clothes, blew the shofar, and cried out to God.

“Then said Judas and his brothers, “Behold, our enemies are crushed; let us go up to cleanse the sanctuary and dedicate it” (1 Maccabees 4:36).

Judah chose some men to fight against the Syrians remaining in the city. He chose others who were priests and devoted to Torah to clean the Temple. They removed the defiled stones and replaced them with uncut ones. They tore down the Altar and built a new one. They made new holy vessels. They burned incense on the new Altar, put bread on the new Table of Presence.

What About the Missing Menorah?

A midrash from Pesitka Rabatti 2:1 suggests that when the Maccabees entered the Temple and did not find the Menorah, the Levitical priests improvised by putting together a simple Menorah made of spears. The midrash speculates that the spears had been left behind by the Syrian soldiers who fled quickly when they were defeated. Transforming enemy spears into the branches of the Menorah would allow for the light to return to the Temple.

However, when the priests went to light the Menorah, they found only enough consecrated oil to last one day. To consecrate more oil would take eight days. Then, a miracle happened. The one jar of oil lasted eight days and the Menorah burned brightly and continuously as God commanded for an eight-day dedication.

“Early in the morning on the twenty-fifth day of the ninth month, which is the month of Chislev, in the one hundred and forty-eighth year,  they rose and offered sacrifice, as the law directs, on the new altar of burnt offering which they had built.  At the very season and on the very day that the Gentiles had profaned it, it was dedicated with songs and harps and lutes and cymbals. All the people fell on their faces and worshiped and blessed Heaven, who had prospered them.  So they celebrated the dedication of the altar for eight days, and offered burnt offerings with gladness; they offered a sacrifice of deliverance and praise” (1 Maccabees 4:52-56).

A Gambling Game

During the years of Greek persecution, unwanted and surprise visits by the Syrian soldiers often came when Jewish men were studying the Torah. If they were caught, the Torah scroll would be shredded into pieces, and those studying Torah would be put to death. According to tradition, one way they protected their scrolls and lives during an invasion was the invention of a game placed with tops. If soldiers came to the door, the Jews would hide their Torah scrolls, pull out their tops, and begin gambling. This tradition is remembered today with a top called a dreidel that has four letters inscribed on each side: Nun, Gimel, Hey and Shin. The letters stand for Nes Gadol Hayah Sham or ‘A Great Miracle Happened There.’ In Israel, the dreidels have one different letter, the Peh, signifying ‘A Great Miracle Happened Here.

Yeshua and Hanukkah

Hanukkah is mentioned in the John 10:22-39 as the Feast of Dedication. It was winter and Yeshua walked in Solomon’s Colonnade of the Temple. Though Hanukkah was a celebration about the re-dedication of the Altar in the Temple of Jerusalem, the focus of the Jews wasn’t on sacrifices and offerings, but on the miracle of the oil and the light. As they are celebrating miracles, they began asking Yeshua if he is the promised Messiah. Yeshua reminds them of all the miracles he has done “in his Father’s name.”

“I did tell you, but you do not believe. The miracles I do in my Father’s name testify about me, but you do not believe because you are not my sheep. My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand” (John 10:25-29).

The greatest miracle –– the Light of the World –– stood in front of the Jewish people at the Temple. The Menorah that burned brightly had become flesh and blood. Just as the oil miraculously lit the Menorah, the Spirit of God filled Yeshua and his light illuminated the Temple during the festival of lights. He no longer remained silent about his identity, but answered their question clearly giving them no doubt as to his identity: “I and the Father are one” (John 10:30). 

Hanukkah and Us

“I exhort you, therefore, brothers, in view of God’s mercies, to offer yourselves as a sacrifice, living and set apart for God. This will please him; it is the logical “Temple worship” for you” (Romans 11:1).

Paul teaches that we are to honor God with our bodies because they are the temple of God’s Spirit (1 Corinthians 6:19-20). Our temple worship is to offer ourselves as a living sacrifice. This is the spiritual essence of Hanukkah –– cleansing our Altar of Sacrifice from everything that contaminates and defiles God’s holy dwelling.

“Therefore, my dear friends, since we have these promises [and miracles], let us purify ourselves from everything that can defile either body or spirit, and strive to be completely holy, out of reverence for God” (2 Corinthians 7:1).

The eight days of Hanukkah are the perfect time for Messianic gentiles to do some temple house cleaning in order to hear the voice of our Shepherd more clearly. Each night of Hanukkah Yeshua’s light is present in the shamash that lights each individual wick on the hanukkiah. He is the Menorah from where the holy oil of God’s Spirit flows and illuminates those hidden areas of our lives that need to be purged and burnt up on the Altar of Sacrifice. By the eighth evening of Hanukkah, our physical and spiritual temples should be a reflection of the miracles that occurred in the Temple during the days of Judah Maccabee.

*The Septuagint is the Greek translation of the Hebrew Scriptures from 2 BCE.  The two books of the Maccabees are found in this translation as well as the Apocrypha.

 For more about Yeshua fullfilling the ‘appointed times,’ purchase Yeshua in His Father’s Feasts.

©2012 Tentstake Ministries Publishing, all rights reserved.  No copying or reproducing of this article without crediting the author or Tentstake Ministries Publishing. For a hard copy of this article,  please purchase Journey with Jeremiah: Nourishment for the Wild Olive.